Weaving the recycled silk

Weaving the recycled silk

The loom has been sitting there needing attention for ages and I finally stopped procrastinating.  Winter is a real challenge to get stuff done.  I knew there would be threading errors; there are always threading errors when I do a loom.  So I cracked out a good light and checked over the warp and found two.  One required that I undo about four inches and re-thread everything, yuch.  But the other was much easier.  I just needed to move everything over by one thread in the reed.  Very easy to fix.

All that needs to be done is wind 4.5 yards of warp yarn onto a bobbin, weight it, thread it through the empty space available in the reed and the harness, and let it hang out the back of the loom.  The harness is the part of the loom that goes up and down and raises the threads and has wire “eyes” for each thread.  I just use a very lightweight to keep the bobbin dragging a little. In this case, I used napkin rings.

Next, I had to load up the really nice ski shuttle specifically designed for rag and rug weaving. The tools for weaving are sometimes the most beautiful things you can imagine, really beautifully made with an elegant design.

After a few passes, I noticed more threading errors.  I fixed them and then noticed another.  It became obvious the problem was the lovely ski shuttle was damaging the warp.  I did a bit of research online and found out that the shuttles need to be maintained to a very high degree.  The bottom of the shuttle needs to be polished and extremely smooth, none of my hand me downs were of that quality.  I’ll fix them later, but for now, I needed an alternate solution.  Back to fixing the warp.









I dug around in my baskets and found a different sort of rag shuttle along with several stick shuttles.  The stick shuttle is a slower method of weaving, but it is all I had.  I was really pleased with how well it worked.

The silk is weaving up softer and more flexible than I thought, the colours seem very compatible and I’m pleased with the results.  The strips are attached with small knots and these are being used as design elements. I like the way they look when they pop up out of the warp.  Because this is an experiment I will try to hold in my optimism for this to become the jacket I had hoped for; that might be too aspirational, but I am aiming in that direction if I can get enough yardage, but for now, I’m really pleased with how things are moving along.


9 thoughts on “Weaving the recycled silk

  1. It looks as though this experiment is working well – the colour’s pretty and the knots do make lovely textural accents! With luck you’ll have the yardage for a jacket but if not it maybe enough to make a smaller garment.

    What a great way to recycle the silk.

    Interesting about the ski shuttle but it does make sense for it to have a very smooth bottom – just like a snow ski.

    1. Yes, the ski shuttle really is not in good shape; there are screws that has started to protrude from their seated countersunk holes, so the wood of the shuttle has shrunk. I’ll need to crack out the super fine sand paper and wax and get at it.

  2. Your fabric is looking good so far. I hope you get enough fabric for the jacket you want, but you can always make a waistcoat (vest?) or gillet, or even use a different complimentary fabric for the sleeves, or the back, which would make your special fabric stand out the more.
    Sounds as if you’re going to have to get the emery paper out for the boat shuttle, but once you’ve done it I think you’ll find that it puts less stress on the warp threads than the stick shuttle. Because the silk strips need to wrap on both sides of the stick, you may find that they also rub the warp threads where you make your shed.
    You could increase the amount of fabric you will get out of your weft yarn if you start off weaving waste yarns for an inch or two than starting with your proper weft. You will notice from your photos that the first half dozen or so throws don’t have the right tension because they are too close to your tie-on knots. Alternatively you could use the plastic bands that are often used to close large parcels. You’ll only need to use 3 or 4 and they will then give you a nice firm edge to beat back to and help to keep your selvedges nice and straight.
    That’s enough of me probably teaching granny to suck eggs!
    Happy weaving.

  3. It looks great and has a nice vibrant colour to cheer up the winter. I look forward to seeing how it progresses and maybe even seeing it in person when it’s done.

  4. Good for you for moving forward on this project even with having to fix errors etc. It fits right in with the first quarter challenge in using recycled materials. I love the effect you are achieving so far and I hope that you get the amount of material that you need to construct a jacket. I look forward to seeing how you progress.

  5. Your experiment looks fabulous and the photos are warming up a cold winter’s day here. I learnt lots from your post. I didn’t realise the high maintenance nature of shuttles. That said, they are a beautiful design. Fingers crossed you will achieve the required yardage. Looking forward to hearing about your progress.

    1. for some reason this did not recognise me as myself and posted it as anonymous – it must be this new phone. Fabulous job!

  6. I didn’t know that warp threads could break so easily or that shuttles were such high maintenance.
    Your patience is being rewarded with the silk providing a wonderful vibrant new fabric, and the knots, they simply add an extra ‘surprise’ element. Hopefully you can make the yardage you need.

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